Does Microsoft know what IT shops really need?

Does Microsoft know what IT shops really need?

Summary: David Berlind's Feature heap won't undo LAMP's toll on Microsoft brings to mind the importance of understanding the client's needs. The Microsoft juggernaut came about, in large part, because Bill Gates envisioned a one-stop-shopping model by which the consumer could go to one vendor and buy one product (a PC configured with Windows and Office) and meet 95% of the their needs.

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David Berlind's Feature heap won't undo LAMP's toll on Microsoft brings to mind the importance of understanding the client's needs.

The Microsoft juggernaut came about, in large part, because Bill Gates envisioned a one-stop-shopping model by which the consumer could go to one vendor and buy one product (a PC configured with Windows and Office) and meet 95% of the their needs. No muss, no fuss! You literally need to know nothing about using a computer to go out and select a decent machine which can do everything the typical end user could ever want to do.

The "feature list" is the only meaningful measure that the typical consumer has to go by to determine the "best bang for the buck" and, in the end, the consumer often buys a great deal more features than they end up needing.

The enterprise doesn't care about features. To the enterprise, "best bang for the buck" is measured in productivity as compared to TCO.

As David points out, the Unix/Linux model is built upon modularity -- its greatest strength is its ability permit the IT professional to use every last cycle for a very specific task. Thus, every Unix/Linux implementation has essentially one feature -- the one task it was configured to do.

Until Microsoft recognizes that its enterprise customers are the IT guys working in a corporate "cost center" putting together high-performance servers on a deadline and not the VP down the hall, they are going to face strong competition from Unix/Linux vendors.

I have long maintained that the upfront cost-savings of Linux (over Windows) are largely offset by added personnel and training costs; but if one requires more hardware to do the same task because the OS is too feature-rich, the flexibility afforded the IT professional to strip out those unneeded features in a Unix/Linux implementation becomes somewhat more compelling.

Microsoft's greatest strength in the eyes of the consumer may very well be its greatest weakness in the eyes of the CIO.

C. Marc Wagner is Services Development Specialist for University Information Technology Services at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.

Topic: Operating Systems

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  • The features can be turned off.

    Your point may be different.

    But there are a surprising number of people who post complaints about knowing the software is still there even after they have turned off or replaced a feature of Windows with other software.

    Why be concerned that the software can do something you don't want it to do?

    Your point can also be inverted.

    A major weakness of Linux is the separate provider of each of the modules. There's no way to confirm that what you're adding will work except testing it.
    Would you rather buy a set of proven, reliable tools, or select a set one tool at a time, and test each?
    Admittedly, that's assuming Microsoft products are reliable, but if that's an issue, then that's a separate problem in itself.

    Another advantage for Microsoft is that the buyer is often not in IT. Simplifies the purchase process to have one vendor for all needs, doesn't it?!
    And the oversupply of functions can sound like an advantage; no need to get a new product if requirements change. At no additional charge.

    Your argument is not just about attitudes among the employees in the "cost center", it's also about sales pitches.
    If the "cost center" has objections that sound like carping or self-flattery, that can be a help rather than a hindrance to the sales pitch.




    Quoting:
    I have long maintained that the upfront cost-savings of Linux (over Windows) are largely offset by added personnel and training costs; but if one requires more hardware to do the same task because the OS is too feature-rich, the flexibility afforded the IT professional to strip out those unneeded features in a Unix/Linux implementation becomes somewhat more compelling.

    Microsoft's greatest strength in the eyes of the consumer [or software buyer for a company] may very well be its greatest weakness in the eyes of the CIO.
    Anton Philidor
    • Re: "The features can be turned off"

      Want an example of why Microsoft doesn't get it: Windows Media
      Player bundled on Server 2003. Forget turning it off, it shouldn't
      be there to begin with.

      "Would you rather buy a set of proven, reliable tools, or select a
      set one tool at a time, and test each?"

      I'd prefer a set of proven, reliable tools, but many of Microsoft's
      tools are neither, and you are stuck with them because they
      can't be removed. To be fair, all the tools provided by any
      particular *nix vendor/distributor many not be best of breed
      either.

      But at least I have the option of not installing them, and
      choosing something else.
      Otto_Delete
      • How much difference does unused software make?

        Turn off media player or any other function and replace whatever you like with something else.

        Does the fact the unused software is still there matter to you? If so, is that a feeling or a technical judgment?
        Anton Philidor
        • Yes, the unused software matters

          By not allow me to remove Media Player or IE or whatever, then I
          am forced to forever deal with their security problems. As long
          as they exist in the OS I have to constantly check to insure that
          the latest security patch (or a new trojan/virus) didn't reactivate
          them.

          I didn't always feel this way, but fighting the same kind of
          Windows problems for over 12 years will even convince an MCSE
          to switch to Linux.
          ottod
    • Re: Why be concerned about software you don't want ...

      Because it gives hackers more targets to shoot holes in your system.

      The leaner your system, the fewer vulnerabilities that need to be closed/patched.

      .
      Plain Logic
      • Perimeter security.

        Much of the security for Windows is defending the whole system from the outside. Doesn't make a difference what vulnerabilities are inside if the perimeter is guarded well.

        Microsoft isn't hurt by over-stating the security vulnerabilities. One primary effect is to sell more recent Microsoft products. Another is to make you seem loudly critical, and being loud often implies an attitude rather than a judgement.

        The current impression is shown by a recent ZDNet article. You remember ZDNet, anti-Microsoft, pro-open source and proud of it. The article asserted that anti-virus software is now at least as vulnerable to attack as Windows.

        So saying that unused software increases vulnerabilities sounds more like opposition to Microsoft than concern about security, frankly.
        Anton Philidor
    • Whatanidiot

      That's like saying you have to buy everything on the menu, but you don't have to eat it.
      Immanuel Tranz-Mischen
      • Ever been to an all you can eat buffet?

        Same price, you decide how much food you're going to eat. The food is laid out for you; just make your choice.

        They're popular, like Microsoft's smorgasbord.
        Anton Philidor
    • but NOT removed (NT)

      .
      Update victim
  • Nail on the head!

    Microsux at their very best is not friendly to IT with specific needs. A platform with one dedicated function should be able to put all it's cycles tyowards that function. Servers are not for running office or games, the system must be modular! Control freaks like Gates and that bunch will never allow a totally customizeable system. Given their code base it's probablly imposible anyhow.
    An_Axe_to_Grind
    • Glad your around for laughs...

      Microsoft is making inroads into everything area they are moving into to the point where entrenced companies are already getting a bit nervous. Not to mention dominance of the desktop.

      I guess they really DO know who their customers are
      John Zern
      • haha

        you funny
        Reverend MacFellow
  • Microsoft don't need to care

    ... they have a monopoly. Antons argument would be ridiculous if applied to any other electronic gizmo. One stop hi-fi shopping, seperates - pah, nobody needs any more quality than the integrated "music centre". One stop car shopping - everyone driving the same motor, only one company making accessories ... food - yes, lets all eat exactly the same meal, day in, day out, because that way the single supplier gets to make a fortune, and that's what really matters. Clothes? No need for anything outside of a single suppliers range, in the colours they choose, and the cut they dictate. Books? Only one writer, Music - only one style, no need for variation, heavens, how can a monopoly survive if people start getting a taste for variation? How can a monopoly continue to control and own its customer base if that base starts getting ideas above its station?

    Microsoft, the great leveller.
    whisperycat
    • Fashions

      What do stereo components, automobiles, food, clothing, books, and music have in common? Aside from being consumer goods rather than contributors to business productivity.

      They all sell based on fashion. Looks are important, fads are important, the self-image of the buyer is important.

      How many shirt buyers would justify their purchases by saying, "It just works."

      Okay, there are some people who think that Windows doesn't look snazzy. There are others who think Windows doesn't look snazzy enough. There are some people who find it imitation snazzy. And there are some people who consider Windows the anti-snazzy, advocating for it because that means they're not following the crowd of critics.

      Have I mentioned a single reason why / why not to purchase Windows? Neither did you.
      Anton Philidor
      • Fixing a para.

        Okay, there are some people who think that Windows looks too snazzy. There are others who think Windows doesn't look snazzy enough. There are some people who find it imitation snazzy. And there are some people who consider Windows the anti-snazzy, advocating for it because that means they're not following the crowd of critics.
        (I've seen the Karman Ghia. Being contrary must be a major human impulse.)
        Anton Philidor
      • Reasons to eschew WIndows? How many do you need?

        My poor mum. 2 years ago she was sold a state of the art PC with Windows XP pre-installed. They didn't give her the Windows disks. There is no anti-virus, no firewall. She can't afford broadband - ?29 a month out of a pension just to catch viruses quicker? She has a copy of Word and a media player. Within weeks, that expensive pile of junk already needed a couple of hundred meg of security patches. She's hardly switched it on. Anyone wanting to use that machine would firts have to pay for anti-virus (because to go online would be to catch the latest hundred of so new Windows viruses), to pay for a firewall, and then to spend a couple of days downloading the hundreds of megabytes of patches without which all Windows machines are just white boxes of useless junk. Then it's time to start buying application software. What a complete and utter waste of her money. Microsoft profited - of course - and so did the retailer. When next I'm up there, I'll take a DVD of Mandrake 10. Free, off the cover of a magazine. She'll be online within 30 minutes. Safe from viruses. Safe from worms. The pick of thousands of applications, from Openoffice to the Gimp. Scanner support, printer support, soundcard support - all free. Dial up or narrowband, the box will configure whatever it finds in the way of modems. That's the FIRST reason why I wouldn't buy Windows. Cost. Never ending costs. Forgety the Microsoft sponsored bullshine, WIndows COSTS> The apps COST. The patches cost, in time, and effort. Just keeping the machine functional costs, I know, the only exposure I have to Windows outside of my work PC is helping one Windows-stuffed friend after another.

        Then there is the privacy issues. The Microsoft EULA is an affront to the fre will. You agree to let Microsoft have admin privileges on "your" PC, to install - or delete - whatever they like, when they like, from your machine. You agree to let Microsoft ()the DRM managers) decide what is "properly licensed" media on your machine, and give them the right to disable whatever they say - they SAY - doesn't conform. It's enough to worry governments that "private", DRM protected documents are actually controlled entirely by the DRM administrators. There's reason number two. With Linux, my files are MINE. No-one has permission to get onto my PC and install or remove software, no-one has my permission to disable my word processor or my email client - and most importantly, no-one has the capability to do any of those things. Microsoft do - and you agree. Silly you. I can bet you aren't so permissive with anything else you value, handing over carte blance access to unknown parties with a VERY bad track record, to enter your house, take what they want, leave what they want. Compliant, owned and controlled you are, as the Yoda guy would say.

        Is 2 reasons enough, or do you need more?
        whisperycat
        • You agree to even MORE with Linux

          Read the license.

          From the sound of your rant, doesn't sound like you actually read MS's ELUA either...
          John Zern
          • News to me

            Just what, exactly, do I have to agree to to use Linux? Please be specific; I've been doing a Gentoo Stage One installation on a new 64-bit machine and I don't want to miss anything important.
            Yagotta B. Kidding
          • Re: You agree to even MORE with Linux

            [i]Read the license.[/i]

            Okay ... wait, this is a license to distribute.

            Looking for user license...[pre]# nothing found[/pre]

            Tell me again what I agree to?


            .
            none none
        • Best way to help your mother.

          Windows is made for people who don't know anything about the computer and don't really want to know.

          You can get her running inside of an hour in a way that will keep her from calling you for assistance and getting some confidence that the computer can be mastered.

          First, remove all the crap. That includes the antivirus and the trialware and anything else she'd have to pay for or isn't likely to use.

          Second, get online and download and install:
          - Avast! Free antivirus, automatic update.
          - Windows anti-spyware beta free, automatic update.
          - Do her settings, including IE (especially cache clear on close) and the Windows firewall.

          The Windows firewall hasn't been overcome in almost a year on my pc's. But if you're insistent, go to Nonags.com and pick out a free firewall.

          If you suspect she's going to be vulnerable to agreeing to spyware installation, you can set up AdAware.
          The most likely use is you requesting it be updated and run over the phone.
          Amazingly to me, after knowing its value and having it set up on the desktop, most people I've helped have not updated the definitions, let alone run the program for at least a year when I look again.

          Do not, of course, install any third party software such as FireFox or an email client. They do not update themselves, and they tend to be more complicated for the beginning user.

          Third, agree to let Windows update install the critcal updates.
          While that's happening, have a good lunch. Go out, bring something in, whatever.

          When you're finished, accept the gratitude and beaming approval. You've earned them and will keep on earning them as she continues happily.

          The alternative you mentioned makes the world a disfunctional, unresponsive, discouraging place. She'd feel hapless, hopeless, bereft and endangered, knowing that only your help will let her move about feebly on her computer. No, stick with Microsoft and let the sun shine.
          Anton Philidor